Virtual Disconnection Fee for Electricity Account

This is a letter sent to the City Electricity Department concerning a virtual disconnection/reconnection and the activity of a sub-contractor.

Last year a white notice warning me of disconnection for non-payment of my account, was shoved under my door. The same day four men in an unmarked vehicle arrived and without identifying themselves proceeded to enter the premises and threatened to remove my electricity metre with a screw-driver, demanded money and threatened me physically. I managed to dissuade them by threatening to call the police and they left.

As far as I am concerned, the city should have at least given me a written warning on a pink slip i.e. a pink notice. Furthermore I am of the opinion that it is a criminal offence to disconnect an electricity supply without consulting with the household affected and making an alternative arrangement to supply the free basic allocation.

Nevertheless, I then went over to the City Electricity Department and made an arrangement on my arrears and paid in some R578. My electricity bill is excessive and despite numerous requests for the metre to be read, the account has not been given an actual reading for the past six months and the amount has been estimated. My latest account now reflects a R117.79 “disconnection” and R117.79 “reconnection”fee totalling R235.58

When I queried this, I was referred to a person in the ENS building. It is quite obvious from the luxurious offices that RED1 has spared no expense in outfitting its offices with the latest equipment, furniture and staff. When I arrived, I managed to speak to a member of staff who called up my account on a brand-new flat screen. She then proceeded to explain to me, and according to the software, that since the ‘order for disconnection’ had apparently gone out, there was no going back in the programme and I would have to simply cough-up the amount. This is sub-contracting at its worst, and a remarkable abuse of computer technology.

I am of the opinion that I am not liable for a virtual disconnection and reconnection fee especially if no physical work has been done by the city in this regard. The only way one can disconnect supply is at the pole, and this job would have been done by a separate department in the municipality and not by a sub-contractor or computer programme. The disconnection/reconnection charge is therefore unacceptable. Please rectify the account.

I am also considering pressing charges with regard to the threats made by workers contracted or under your employ, specifically in connection with intimidation, the production of a screwdriver and an attempt to deny access to the free basic allocation.

[UPDATE: This matter was resolved via the Public Protector and a legal adviser. I am in receipt of an espoliation order guaranteeing ante omnia “peaceful and unobstructed” use of electricity at the residence in question]

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